A small experiment can beat a lot of theorising
Transcript of this video:
A few years ago, my good friend Cathy Salit told me a story about how she had once worked with a management team that was a bit stuck.
At some point in their work together, she asked them to perform, as she put it, to perform about 10 minutes of a normal team meeting. To just do the meeting as they normally would in front of her.
So they did, and that was all fairly straightforward. And when they’d finished, she said, great. Now I want you to do the same thing again. I want you to say the same things to each other in exactly the same order, if you can remember it.
Only this time, she said, I want you to do it as if everything everyone says, including yourself, is somehow ridiculously funny. Now, that’s a pretty big intervention in some ways by Cathy, and she is a very good judge of how far you can push groups.
And she obviously established quite a good level of trust with them before she did this, it’s not the sort of thing that might always work, but they did it. And as soon as the 10 minutes were up, they were full of exciting feedback.
They were saying things like, oh, we’d forgotten that we got on really well together. And they started generating all sorts of thoughts and ideas about things that they could do differently to be more effective as a team.
And this story fascinates me in more ways than I can possibly capture in a short video.
I love that Cathy works with this idea of performance Sometimes we think having to perform is an is is somehow to be inauthentic and not to be ourselves, but actually you can use performing as an excuse to experiment and try out new ways of behaving and see if they work for you.
And also Cathy didn’t go into the meeting saying, well, let me explain the theory of good teamwork, or have a conversation with them about what makes a good team, which is how a lot of us would probably go about it.
She just went in and did this little bit of what I would call kindly mischief, and what it uncovered was beneath the team’s stuckness, just below the surface of stuckness, there was all this life, and learning that was just about there, and just needed to be triggered to be activated.